The IRS Says Daystar, the Bedford-Based Televangelism Empire, Is Actually a Church

Categories: Media, Religion

DaystarMarcusJodiLamb.jpg
Daystar
Daystar founders Marcus and Joni Lamb
Daystar is that low-budget religious channel that you flip past when you're searching for something watchable on TV. You might have lingered for a few seconds once or twice, momentarily transfixed by Joel Osteen's hair, but only as long as it takes for your brain to kick back into gear.

Don't be fooled by appearances, though. The sprawling global television network, which is based in Bedford and boasts $233 million in assets, is not actually a television network. It's a church.

Never mind that it has none of the trappings traditionally associated with a place of worship. It has no members, at least none that are physically present on a regular basis. There's no Sunday sermon, unless you count those delivered by the televangelists who pay Daystar for airtime. The closest thing to a sanctuary is the gauche TV studio network founders Marcus and Joni Lamb broadcast from.

NPR does a deep dive into the organization for All Things Considered today, puzzling over how an organization that is so clearly not a church can be classified as one under the tax code.

The main reason is that the IRS isn't terribly interested in adjudicating what is and isn't a church. Start auditing religious institutions and congressional wrath will be sure to follow. Best to take an organization's churchdom at face value. Besides, it's not like it matters much to the treasury's bottom line whether a group is considered a church or a nonprofit, since both are exempt from most taxes.

One of the main benefits of being a church is that churches get to keep their financial dealings secret. Unlike secular nonprofits, which must file an annual report of contributions and expenditures, they report virtually nothing to the IRS.

Daystar did, however, disclose much of that information in a now-closed 2011 employee lawsuit. NPR found a trove of Daystar financial documents covering 2005-2011, many of which it links to in its story.

They discovered that the network gives considerably less to charity than the Lambs have advertised -- $9.7 million versus a claimed $30 million -- and there are plenty of expenses that at the very least raise eyebrows.

Daystar spent non-donation ministry income on expenses that included $572,154 in sponsorship and expenses for a Christian NASCAR driver named Blake Koch; a $2.3 million loan to Rev. Frank Harber, Lamb's former special assistant and golfing buddy, to start a church which defaulted on the loan; and the network spent $97,320 at retail bookstores to buy up copies of Joni Lamb's autobiography, Surrender All, helping drive it onto a bestseller's list. Daystar says the books were given away as premiums to donors.

In other words, exactly the type of stuff the secular world would expect a televangelism network to spend its money on. But even if the NPR piece contains no real surprises, it offers a useful reminder: If you come across Daystar on TV, please, for the love of God, keep flipping.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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62 comments
dc005
dc005

Let's not forget,  in August of '03 KERA sold a full-power VHF Channel 2,  covers as far out as Channel 4, 5, 8, 11 (the frequency included the right to broadcast on subchannels that allow multiple signals and HD)  to Daystar for a super-paltry $20mil.   Back then,  a middlin' radio station in DFW went for that.  At exactly the same time a low power,  short tower tv station in Dallas with a signal that sometimes reached Forney went for $37million.

Story was the $20mil would go into an escrow account to finance more local programming.  Still waiting.    KERA kept the rights to use a Channel 2 subchannel for HD additional tv programming,  which it's never used.

Daystar owned Channel 29,  that lower-powered UHF,  which it sold for $37million.

Channel 2 is 'educational' and 'non-commercial',  it's revenue as a station that doesn't hawk The Hammer and Career Schools is limited.  But,  no limit on what it can charge preachers.

The industry changed,  cable numbers mushroomed,  HD arrived.

And the "Church" claims about a Quarter-Billion in assets.

Keep this "financial stewardship" in mind at the next KERA Pledge Drive!

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

It's ok, the IRS makes up for this by sticking it to conservative community organizing groups, but no-one need resign nor take the fifth in regards to this church.

It all works out in the end, if the boss wants to use his power, he will.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Religion, one of the easiest and best cons ever.  Especially for those who preach the theology of prosperity.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

There is a reason that Christian churches consider their customers "sheep".

lecterman
lecterman

What? Tax evasion by "religious" organizations?  You don't say.


Next they will be telling us that large corporations (people according to Citizens United) are evading taxes too.

JackJett
JackJett

How does Ms. Marcus find time for Botox, lifts, and tucks and still have time to shit glitter like it was going out of style. 

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

Reserving judgment until after reading Joni Lamb's autobiography.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@dc005

I've been ripping off PBS for decades.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

At least they don't have the touchy and explosive nature of some congregants we know, and rarely kill each other when someone dares mock them or their chosen Big Dude (pbuh).

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@lecterman We might even find out that champions of anti-gun legislation were raking in undeclared income illegally selling guns....


RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs sure.  but whatever changes get applied to the first amendment get applied evenly, across all clauses of the amendment.  If we're going to tone down religious freedom, we should equally, and in the same direction, pare down the freedoms of speech, assembly and association as well.


Of course, our government, no matter who is in the white house, is already doing this to the entirety of the Bill of Rights, so don't worry Bucky, soon you'll have the oppressive dictatorship you've always dreamed of living in.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Bvckvs

You keep referring to "gun violence advocates", and I keep reminding you that those to whom you refer are primarily the Hollywood machine (which gets lots of tax breaks), and the music industry - specifically the "urban" or "hip-hop" genre. (Of course there's the Nuge, but he hasn't actually shot anyone, ever.)

These groups are, almost to the man, leftist - not the "right-wing extremists" you seem to think file out of church every Sunday lusting for blood.

If that were the case, The Bible Belt would be experiencing at least seven to ten car bombs, rocket launches or suicide bombings a week.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JackJett  

"Liked" for "Glitter Shitter". 

I award thee (1) internets.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

JackJett

The same way the First Family takes ten million dollar vacations?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ChrisYu  

I'll just wait for the Oprah interview after the inevitable divorce.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@ChrisYu If you buy two copies you're guaranteed a seat next to Jesus in Heaven at Christmas and Easter.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@lecterman @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

I occasionally tune in to some of these televangelists on Sunday mornings while dial-hopping for the news and I've actually sat and listened to a few of Osteen's sermons, and if you took the words "God, Lord, Creator" out of them, they all kinda' just boil down to common-sense living. "Take care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves." types of sermons followed up by the usual money-shaking.

I just can't get too mad at Osteen for making a living giving people common-sense advice wrapped in scripture. People come for that product, and he delivers. Not much different than me paying to go see a play or a band or a movie that leaves me feeling uplifted.

Recently, however, I watched Keith Craft on the Elevate Life Church Sunday program and I got to say, that guy is whack. His entire schtick seems to be parsing scripture in order to divine some justification for why God wants Elevate Life members to be rich and not feel guilty about it.

Osteen isn't for me, but he seems relatively benign, Craft is just downright creepy.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  

No kidding - the terrorists in Christian churches all wear vestments and take it out on the altar boys - like God intended. 

EdD.
EdD.

@TheRuddSki Sure, they occasionally firebomb other Christian churches or burst in during a service and gun down one or more people but that's just good clean American fun, not like those pesky Others, right?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

Shit and whacking off...

I just hate it when people steer discussions in directions that upset my sense of propriety, it just destroys the decorum when I simply don't get it.

And no matter how much begging I must endure, this is absolutely, positively my final word on the subject!

Harrumph.

JackJett
JackJett

@TheRuddSki No, more like the way you take all comments and twist and turn them into something totally unrelated in a lame attempt to shit some glitter.  And while you lack an ounce of glitter, it is clear you are full of shit as you crap out vindictive verbiage every ten minutes. 


Now this will be my only comment to you today, so cut and paste it so you can whack off to it later on today. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

Never caught his sax act, but I do remember the booger moment. Like I said, never did quite glom his message, and though I could google and find out, I don't wanna spoil my memories by clouding them with facts,

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  

I vaguely remember sitting around my friend Billy's smoky apartment after bar-time yukking it up while watching ol' Dr. Gene.

Didn't he used to pull out his saxophone and play it very poorly every now and again? Blurry memories.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

I always liked Gene Scott.

"the incredible resilience of a booger"

Never did figger out what his message was.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

TheCredibleHulk

Assumably, God's money is laundered - no Filthy Lucre in heaven.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  

It all belongs to God, no?

He just keeps a "Scrooge McDuck" style vault in Rome to store most of it.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

In some congregations, it is customary for the head persons to hang them in the public square after buggering them. And no-one gets sued.

BTW, is it true that the Vatican has "more money than God"?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

EdD.

This is one reason I stay off the streets on Sunday.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@ghk

feel free to dispute anything at the link, but honestly, if you like your credibility, you may not be able to keep your credibility.

ghkyluhhje
ghkyluhhje

@TheRuddSki-You lose all credibility when you cite a source like pjmedia. Of course, I remember that you're the resident idiot on this forum, so naturally this was not a surprise to me.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs @RTGolden1To limit one part of the first amendment would be discriminatory.  While it is fun, for you, to imagine yourself as the supreme dictator of a perfect utopia, where everyone is just the way YOU want them to be, reality doesn't work like that.  YOU don't get to decide which of MY rights I'm free to exercise or not.  If you want to restrict one of my rights, your identical right must be restricted in the identical fashion.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@bvckvs @RTGolden1  

No, Bucky. Wrong again - as usual.

The only way rationality can ever win is by letting the irrational crumble under the weight of their own hubris. To do otherwise is to become what you hate.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @TheRuddSki 

I see the "French Mistake" scene in Blazing Saddles, but instead of the water fountains, Buddy bends over and shoots a glitter cannon at the cowboys...

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

I thought that it was a float in the pride parade, actually - or something found in one of Saddam's palaces.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@JackJett

Perhaps I consider the Obama phenomenon, beginning with the videos of praise and devotion by Hollywood youth and Hollywood adults, followed by un-earned awards and plaudits simply for being, and the blind acceptance of even the most egregious falsehoods, frauds and hoodwinks as somewhat similar to the accusations leveled at people of faith, and leaders in the religious community.

And, as such, I like to point out the hypocrisy, the UN-awareness,and, yes, the bigotry.

That it annoys you as it does, and you have to somehow tie it into a sexual dig of some sort (we know sex and sexuality are your thing) is the whole point.

That you feel it's important for me to know this will be your sole response to me tells me your ego is much more impressive than your logic. Am I supposed to feel somehow denied or deprived?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@MissMacy @TheRuddSkiI actually am curious, MissMacy, as to what makes Rudd's comment idiotic, and Jack's comment glitter like gold, as it were?


To be fair, it isn't just the current first family that spends great big wads of our cash on their vacations, all first families do.  I'd still like to know how they justify it, and why you seem so willing to condone it.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@MissMacy

Care to elaborate, or are we to simply assume that there is wisdom behind your proclamation?

Sheep are sheep hon, no matter who shears them. Your retort could have been shorter and just as effective if you had simply bleated "baaaaaaaaahhhhh".

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